- Experts fear that Florida could have more than 10,000 teaching vacancies by the end of 2022
- English is the most impacted subject; just 25 percent of Floridian third graders were found to be at a proficient reading level this year
- Osceola County School Board recently voted to hire teachers from outside the country in an effort to make up numbers
- Florida raised its teacher starting pay, but still lags behind the national average
With less than two months until the start of the new academic school year in Florida’s public schools, the state’s teacher shortage is worsening, with estimates fearing that vacancies could double by the end of 2022.
The most severely impacted core topic is English, a subject in dire need of more teachers after just 25 percent of third-graders were found to read at a proficient level on the state FSA exam. According to research in the report, English and reading skills have the largest percentage of outside-the-field instructors since less than 4% of educators possess subject certification in these areas. Throughout 60,000 out of the 591,461 registered classes taught in schools all over the state are being taught by individuals who are not licensed to do so, including over 9% of the English programs.
“We want high-quality education whenever we can get it,” Board of Education Chair Tom Grady said. “But having someone who is motivated and in an education program, as opposed to having no one, maybe there is something there we can do.”
Efforts to work around the shortage nationwide include combining classes, streamlining the curriculum, and in the case of New Mexico, which is suffering from a similar shortage, having the Governor work as a substitute teacher.
In June, the Osceola County School Board voted to hire dozens of foreign instructors to make up for the shortage of teachers domestically.
The Osceola Co. School Board voted unanimously, tonight, to contract with a company to hire 140 teachers from Latin America. It’s to fill a teacher shortage gap that has plagued the US and became an even greater issue during the pandemic. Stay with @WESH
— Luana Munoz (@Luana_Munoz) June 8, 2022
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is attempting to draw in prospective teachers through a budget allocation to increase teacher base pay.
“Since day one, I have been focused on making Florida a leader in education, and I am proud to announce my proposals to invest record funding into our education system over the next year,” said DeSantis. “By continuing to boost teacher pay, give bonuses to principals and teachers, prioritize workforce education, foster a strong civics curriculum, and replace the FSA with progress monitoring, we’re making a significant difference in the lives of our students.”
For educational services, a round of $1,000 bonus checks for approximately 179,000 teachers and principals in Florida was proposed, as well as $600 million for teacher pay.
An increase in per-student funding to reach $8,000 per student will be coupled with an elimination of the Florida Standards Assessment and its replacement with progress monitoring.
Despite the teacher pay increase for new teachers, Florida’s average teacher compensation overall is $51,167, which is still less than the $65,293 national average.
A four-year-old study of high school students indicated that just 5 percent were interested in becoming teachers while participation in programs that prepare future teachers fell by 23 percent between 2008 and 2016.